Even the largest place-based funders have comparatively limited resources to support community priorities. In recent years, many of the place-based funders from 12 regions across the country who gathered in a learning group in 2020 have increasingly collaborated to amplify the impact of their resources. They described how the pandemic and the racial justice crisis redoubled their commitment to work with their peers and other stakeholders, principally in four ways.

Expanding the inner circle, to bring communities into cross-sector coalitions for change

Several of the peer funders underlined the positive impact that effective collaboration— aligning and coordinating the efforts of diverse stakeholders toward a common goal—can have on the communities they serve. As place-based funders, they believe a critical part of their work is to engage with a wide range of cross-sector stakeholders in their respective regions, from elected officials and the heads of government agencies to community members and leaders, and from nonprofit partners and intermediaries to power brokers and local business leaders.

Using social capital to connect community leaders to decision makers

Even as the place-based peer funders think through approaches to building power in communities, all are deeply cognizant of the power (and reservoirs of untapped power) that permeates the neighborhoods they care about. They value lived experience as much as technical expertise. And they know that because individuals and families are closest to the challenges they face, they often have solutions that elude social-sector professionals.

Making the case for other funders to work with allies on community priorities

Many of the peer funders are using their influence to encourage power brokers and other funders in their regions to work collectively to advance community-driven priorities. Their efforts have yielded at least three insights for influencing their peers and other stakeholders.

Building alliances with other funders to invest collectively

Although funder collaborations don’t require a globe-spanning pandemic for them to come to life, a crisis certainly comprises the backdrop for the formation of some of those partnerships.

Read the full article about building partnerships by Debby Bielak, Darren Isom, Marion Michieka, and Bill Breen at The Bridgespan Group.